The second issue of Shadowflame relates two stories. For my money, the second story is the superior of the two and would have alone netted the book four bullets.
Two alien elders tasked Tom Wyatt with the protection of the Earth. They specifically want him to defend the planet from Maldestrak, an alien warlord with immense power beelining for our world.
“Silent Scream” consists of a duel between Shadowflame and a nameless warrior. Their battle is visceral and a testament to the artists’ enviable talents. Jeff Austin’s inks result in a softer look, which benefits the darker story. Keiran Oats’ colors help craft an alien feeling around the emerald champion.
Martino keeps Shadowflame quieter during the battle and the very little dialogue that can be read counts for something. At the end of the tale, the being reveals the motive behind the melee and it’s a good one. The rationale emphasizes Shadowflame’s origin and purpose and it issues believable foreboding.
While a single person catalyzes events, “Surges” is episodic. It’s still a decent anthology in Shadowflame’s life, but the story lacks the focus of “Silent Scream.” Baltinetti the crime boss whose nephew attempted a rape that Shadowflame impeded last issue enacts a vendetta by hiring Killwatt to slay Shadowflame. Killwatt is referred to as an electrocutioner. That’s not exactly original.
Batman’s defeated two electrocutioners, and if you want to throw in Bolt, this idea of an electrocuting hitman is almost passé. Killwatt’s origin, however, is polished and paves the way for the Shadowflame universe.
I was surprised to see other superpowered characters in Shadowflame. Killwatt gained his powers at the same time as government agents Cyberine and Napalm. Martino introduces an interesting twist in the trio. The villain isn’t the most volatile. Such a dubious honor belongs to Napalm. Cyberine though afflicted with a stupid codename actually behaves like a superhero with more than a modicum of intelligence. Furthermore, the design of the characters is above average. I could imagine the military fashioning such costumes.
After Killwatt leaves the scene, Shadowflame tracks down his employer through his holdings. This is where Martino lost me. While the one thug stupidly attacks Shadowflame, the other surrenders. Shadowflame still manhandles him, and such tactics are gratuitous. He’s already scared. Shadowflame could have simply told him to deliver a message to the crime boss, and he would have done it. Instead, he acts the brute.
Shadowflame spends the final moments of the first story reconnecting with the victim of the attempted rape. A name would have been nice, but it’s good that she appeared back in the story because this makes her more than a means to an end.
Two stories for four bucks. The first is a 3 bullet story. The second is a 4 bullet story. So, the second issue of Shadowflame earns a low 4.